The short answer is no, assessment is paramount to a
successful teaching cycle. When
used correctly it helps to form the instructional decisions we make as
educators. The long answer is yes
it has destroyed education and continues to be a prime cause of the United
States sagging education system.
When I first became a teacher back in …. never mind the
year. I was given text books and
thrown into the fire, I was fortunate because a teacher by the name of Diana
Carlos took me under her proverbial wing and taught me that just teaching a
concept to all did not tell me anything about what my students knew. I would get a few hands raised and the
cordial “yes, Mr. Segersten,” and I thought they had it. Needless to say neither of us did. Through the mentoring of Mrs. Carlos I
realized that I needed to determine what my children did or did not understand
about my lesson. At that point I
realized that I needed to “check for understanding” which was essentially
assessing their knowledge on a given subject. I would use everything from monitoring notes, exit tickets
to yes the occasional “test”. This
enabled me to begin small reading and math groups to meet the needs of those
not getting it as well as challenge those who had.
As educators we have been legislated into believing that a
state assessment is the most important thing. Additionally the only way to view a teacher’s effectiveness
is how well their students perform on a State Test. A terrible result of this as our primary focus is our
abysmal scores on national assessments.
There is nothing wrong with assessment for learning; I am not completely
apposed to a state assessment. In
fact there is a big part of me that like some pieces of the Common Core PARCC
The point is that we should focus on the student and their
learning of concepts. The only way
to ensure this occurs is to focus on application of learning. Tied to real world experiences and
higher order thinking skills.
What are your thoughts on assessment in education?